27 February 2011
Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty is a relatively recent addition to the world of kiddielit kitty's. She's not as rotten as Ralph, but she is certainly just as funny. And making the jump from picture books to highly illustrated chapter books has meant more bang for your bad kitty. Reminiscent of Bill the Cat, with her bug-eyed manic expression and Tasmanian Devil-ish freak-outs, her aversion to baths, dogs, and Uncle Murray provide plenty of material for roping in reluctant readers.
Pickles the fire cat started out as a side character in Esther Averill's adventures of the Cat Club (most of which focused on shy Jenny Linsky.) He was a stray, hanging out in barrals and mooching off of kindly Mrs. Goodkind. Left to his own devices he would chase cats smaller then himself, which quickly gained him the reputation as a bad cat. He needed a purpose to keep him out of trouble. His mighty paws made him a perfect fit for the local fire department, where he proved himself a natural at coaxing timed cats out of trees. Hands down my favorite book from my childhood.
And last but not least, since we are on the subject of well-drawn cats, I must mention my all-time favorite cat illustrator, Anne Mortimer. This picture from Cats Sleep Anywhere by Eleanor Farjeon, while not my favorite Mortimer cat (that would be Tosca, from the series by Matthew Sturgis and annoyingly unavailable in a decent scan) is indicative of the quality of cat she produces. Her cats have appeared in books by Margaret Wise Brown, Edward Leer, and Sue Stainton and are always beautifully rendered and uncannily realistic.
Well, there you go! Let me hear about your favorite literary moggies.